Ten years ago, Mumbai bore witness to one of the deadliest terror attacks to ever happen in India—it claimed approximately 166 lives and wounded hundreds more.
The carnage in the financial capital was believed to be carried out by militants from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), who came to Mumbai via a sea route, according to PTI.
The group had been planning the attack for almost a year and the initial plan was to attack Indian defence scientists at the Taj Mahal Hotel a year before the 26/11 strikes. These details were later revealed by Pakistani-American terrorist David Coleman Headley.
Who is David Headley?
- Headley is a Pakistani-American operative who is serving 35 years in prison in the United States for his role in the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai.
- He joined LeT in 2001 and participated in various training camps in Pakistan for the next two years, according to Hindustan Times.
- In late 2005, he received instructions from three members of the outfit to travel to India to conduct surveillance, which he did five times, leading up to the Mumbai attacks in 2008.
- Headley said he had even changed his name from Daood Gilani in 2006 to easily move in and out of India without raising any suspicion.
- He was arrested in 2009 and pleaded guilty to 12 charges, including conspiracy to bomb places of public use.
- Headley was made an approver in 2015 by a Mumbai court which granted him pardon in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case. He had told the court that he was ready to depose if given pardon.
Here's what he revealed:
- Headley, who had conducted recce for the LeT of places in Mumbai which were attacked, said that the outfit had initially planned to attack a conference of Indian defence scientists at Taj Mahal Hotel. The plan was later dropped.
- He said he had also conducted a recce of the famous Siddhivinayak Temple and Naval air station on directions of LeT commanders, according to PTI.
- Headley had also videographed a number of targets in India, including the Taj hotel in Mumbai, which was attacked by 10 LeT terrorists. According to security agencies, the videos made by Headley were the foundation on which the Mumbai attacks was planned.
- An excerpt, published by Firstpost, from The Mind Of a Terrorist: The Strange Case of David Headley by Kaare Sorensen says that Headley had found more than 20 targets for terror attacks in India, which he reported to LeT. He also delivered roughly 50 hours worth of video from Mumbai.
- According to Hindustan Times, Headley also said that he had shot videos of other targets for future attacks, including the residence of the Vice-President and India Gate.
- He also confirmed that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) was helping different terror outfits in Pakistan and providing financial, military and moral support. ISI's Major Iqbal would regularly send Headley money and even gave him counterfeit Indian currency once or twice in 2008.
- According to an India Today report, Headley also identified the 2008 attacks mastermind Hafiz Saeed and revealed that Saeed directed him on how to carry out his work. He also said that two terror attack attempts were made before 26/11, but they failed.
- One of the people named by Headley was Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Pakistani-Canadian member of the LeT. Headley said that Rana visited Mumbai before the terror attacks.
PTI contributed to this story..